EDMOND — Editor’s note: The honorees with Edmond connections will be profiled in future editions.
Two service members with Edmond ties are among the war heroes who will be inducted later this year into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame.
Five inductees are deceased, including two who were awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroism. One inductee will receive the Maj. Gen. Douglas O. Dollar Distinguished Service Award. Dollar, a member of the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame, is a Vietnam Veteran who served in the U.S. Army Reserve after Vietnam service.
They will be inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame during a Nov. 9 banquet at the Jim Thorpe Museum’s Events Center, 4040 N Lincoln in Oklahoma City.
Inductees in the class of 2013 are:
• Lieutenant Col. Michael E. Sloniker, of Edmond, who served in Vietnam where he flew the UH-1H Iroquois, AH-1G Cobra and AH-1S. Sloniker’s leadership positions included serving as a platoon leader, an operations officer of an assault helicopter battalion and as a battery commander. His awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross. He retired from the U.S. Army on Oct. 1, 1990.
• Major Frederick J. Ransbottom, U.S. Army, who deployed to Vietnam where his unit was assigned to defend 30 mountain outposts at Kham Duc. On May 12, 1968, his area came under a massive attack, was overrun and he was killed. Officials believed Maj. Ransbottom was a POW, but he was not. In 2006, nearly 39 years later, his remains were found and returned to Oklahoma. His medals and decorations include the Silver Star and Purple Heart. His mother lives in Edmond.
• Sergeant First Class Tony K. Burris, who died Oct. 9, 1951, on Heartbreak Ridge in Korea where his heroic action resulted in him being awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
• First Lt. Frederick F. Henry, who was a platoon leader when his men were attacked by a numerically superior enemy force near Andong, Korea. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, two Bronze Star Medals and two Purple Hearts posthumously.
• Major Gen. Nicholas S. Krawciw, who was born in Poland and lived in Germany during World War II. At age 14, he came to America. In 1962-63, he served in Vietnam where he was severely wounded in an ambush. During his combat tours, he earned six decorations for heroism.
• General Edwin H. Burba Jr., who was nominated by U.S. Rep. Carl Albert to West Point. He served two tours in Vietnam and was seriously wounded during his second. He was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during a battle in 1968.
• Lieutenant Col. William R. Schwertfeger, who flew 352 combat missions in Vietnam. In 1972, he was orbiting a potential enemy site when his F-4 was hit by a Russian missile that crippled the F-4, forcing him to land amongst North Vietnamese soldiers. He and his weapons system officer were held 407 days as POWs at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton.” His medals include three Silver Stars, four Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Purple Hearts, 34 Air Medals and the Prisoner of War Medal.
• Captain Robert J. Kelsey, U.S. Navy, who participated in air operations over North and South Vietnam. He was deployed twice with a VA-105 Squadron to the Mediterranean Sea. During his Naval career he flew more than 3,500 hours. His medals include the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Meritorious Service Medals and 20 Air Medals with “Vs.” He died of cancer in June 1992.
• Lieutenant Col. Dudley J. Britton, who was serving in an armored infantry battalion in August 1944 when the unit landed eight miles from Utah Beach during the World War II Normandy Invasion. Britton fought in Europe and was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry for his actions in Belgium at the battle of St. Vith on Dec. 22, 1944. He was wounded and awarded his First Oak Leaf Cluster in addition to his Purple Heart Medal. Britton died in 1992.
• Lieutenant Col. Jerry P. Orr, of Lawton, who will receive the Maj. Gen. Douglas Dollar Distinguished Service Award. Twice wounded in combat, in 1958 he deployed to Korea, serving as a platoon leader and forward observer with the 1st Battalion, 19th Field Artillery. In 1968, he served in Vietnam where he encountered some of the most intense ground combat in the Central Highlands. His awards include two Bronze Star Medals with “V” for valor, two Purple Hearts, three Meritorious Service Medals, eight Air Medals and the Army Commendation Medal.
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